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Boston Marathon bans bags, backpacks to boost security

Boston MarathonBoston Marathon Bombing (2013)Tamerlan Tsarnaev

BOSTON — This year's Boston Marathon will have a no-bags policy as part of stepped-up security after last year's deadly bombing, the Boston Athletic Assn. announced Wednesday.

Marathon runners typically are allowed to bring bags or backpacks to keep personal items. Those bags are bused between the starting line and the finish line.

But this year, runners will not be allowed to bring backpacks or bags, which will also not be allowed in certain areas near the start and finish lines or along the 26.2-mile course.

Runners will be given a chance to check gear on Boston Common on the morning of the marathon to allow them to have a change of clothing at the end of the race. The athletic association said it would provide clear plastic bags for that purpose.

Twin bombs placed in two backpacks near the 2013 finish line killed three people and injured more than 260. Prosecutors say two spectators were responsible.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is awaiting trial and could face the death penalty on 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction. His older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died after a gun battle with police several days after the marathon.

State, local and federal law enforcement officials have been meeting for months to prepare a stringent security plan for this year's April 21 marathon.

The new rules were outlined in an email sent by the athletic association to registered runners.

The association said unregistered runners, known as “bandits,” who traditionally jump into the race at various points along the course, will be strictly prohibited this year.

“Anyone on the course for any distance who has not been assigned, or is not displaying, an officially issued bib number from the B.A.A. is subject to interdiction,” the association said in its email.

Costumes covering the face or non-form-fitting, bulky outfits will also be prohibited.

Runners were told they could not bring backpacks or similar item carried over the shoulder or handbags of any size. Those items will be prohibited from all marathon venues, including along the course, near the start and finish areas and at all official marathon events.

Glass containers and any container larger than one liter will also be banned.

The BAA said runners would be allowed to wear small fanny packs to carry food, medicine, identification, cellphones or other necessary small items. They can also bring water bottles as long as they are one liter or smaller. Organizers are discouraging runners from wearing headphones, but they will be permitted.

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